“In the unremembered lessons learned and / heartfelt instincts that we know we know; in sight / and taste, in smell, feelings and sound; in mixed / company and alone; we share our home.
Poetry is toxic. The very word ‘poetry’ is a turn off for all but the hardiest of Edinburgh Festival and Fringe goers. It is more than toxic, actually. It is positively repulsive.
So yes, it is far far more difficult to attract audiences than I thought and with 3500 shows to compete with, it is freaking demanding on the first place.
There is very good news, though. The people that have come to #manandboy @edfringe @thespaceuk (venue 260, 6pm, £6) have really appreciated it. How do I know? Because about 50 percent of the punters have bought one of my books. That is one-hell of a hit rate.
Week one is nearly over. It has been a blast, and one hell of an experience. Yup: I have learned more about what I should not be doing than what I am doing, but that is undeniable a good thing. Roll on weeks two and three!
Carol Ann Duffy. Discuss. (NB I have just seen her at the stand.co.uk @edfringe.)
It is 30 mins to go to the next #manandboy @edfringe @thespaceuk @jurysinn and I am feeling quite vulnerable. Interesting.
#poetry @edfringe is minority thing hidden in the minority category of #spokenword.
As I try to drum up custom flyering for #manandboy I fear I am invariably and immediately judged as promoter of stuff that is inherently bad, disreputable and embarrassing. Maybe in part that my illness talking – and of course many of the people who have come to the gig have proved their appreciation by shelling £6 on the slim volume London Poems. But for the vast majority of fringegoers #poetry seems to be a dirty word.
I saw Frankie Vah by Luke Wright (Underbelly , Venue 61, 9.20pm) last night. It tells the 1980s life story of a post-punk student drop out and goes straight into my top-rated ‘really good’ category. It is beautifully written. It is fast, sometimes furious, often insightful, and always absorbing. It also has a dirty secret – though the cover is blown as soon as the piece begins. This is an hour long poem. Is it advertised as #poetry? Is it heck. Look it up under the ‘spoken word’ and/or ‘theatre’.
Also in my ‘really good’ basket is Cathy (Pleasance Dome, Venue 23, 3.30pm), inspired by Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home. The injustice of 2017 housing policy in the UK, especially London, is laid bare. This excellent work made me angry and terarful at the same time.
It is hard to act the part of a shrink because shrinks are usually acting in real life so an actor in a play is acting the part of an actor. All that said, Monica Dolan pretty much nails it in Beasts (Underbelly, 6pm). The script is good too though it may have been better to focus more on ‘Karen’s’ life and background. Beasts is a monologue and I like monologues – I’ve seen Honestly (Space on the Mile, 4.20pm), Shit I’m In Love With You Again (Surgeons’ Hall, 9.15pm) and Beasts. Honestly is the pick of those I have seen so far, IMHO. I really liked Ciaran McGhee last night in the Captains Bar but am wearing of fanny gags.
@edfringe @thespaceuk #honestly #beasts @rachelie @robertcolepoet @wet-zebra @thespaceuk #rspcreviews #manadboy
It’s been bugging me ever since I arrived in Edinburgh, and it is something that has nagged on the past occasions I have stayed here. Don’t get me wrong I like the city a lot – but there is something missing and now I think I know what it is. A river.
Like London there is a north and a south to Edinburgh and there is a place where the river ought to be – along the train lines that run through Waverley. Asking around I heard that water – a loch – did once sit where the railway station now lies. On further investigation (see The Scotsman article linked below) it may have been man-made shitpit/water hole that also served as a place of medieval execution.
The Thames is different in that it is a flowing river as old as ice ages. It is cleaner now than it has been for, what, 2000 years? But my river spent much of that time as shitpit/water hole and place of death. Meanwhile the Nor’ Loch, to quote a line from one of my London Poems is, a “forgotten absence as as hard to reconceive / as the seven windmills that once faced Rotherhithe.”
To be serious and non-self deprecating for a change, I am in Edinburgh for a couple or three reasons. First, I suppose, it is because I have been suffering a nasty debilitating mental illness these last few months. Don’t worry, this is not a cry for help: I am getting plenty of help and, my goodness, am I grateful for it.
Second, it is something I have always wanted to do. The penny did not drop til recently, but I think I have always wanted to do this. Edwina said that was a decent reason to do anything, and she is right.
Third, I am trying to find out if there is an audience for my poetry. In the past, I am not sure I ever really understood peole who talked about ‘creating’ a market. It did not make sense, creating something from nothing. But now I get it. And now I understand how bloody difficult it is.
“In warm rains of summer and the worst / darkness of winter, autumn’s first blackberry / and the last rites of spring, we are versed / in a rhythmical free-flowing history. (from Yeatman’s Farm)
It’s raining here in Edinburgh. And that must be good for ticket sales, right? Festival goers won’t be seduced into sitting around in parks drinking lager in the sunshine. No, they will seek shelter in the reflective dryness of #manandboy @thespaceuk @edfringe. As the last count there were only 35 seats left the 6pm first night. Details here –
That’s Graham Deakin in the pic – one of @wetzebra ‘s other writers. IMHO his work is insightful, unusual and beautiful. Please support his campaign to be published via this link – http://wet-zebra.com/life-style/theres-only-one/
Tilly gave me a big big hug. Beth too. Jojo did the same last night because she said she wouldn’t see me in the morning. “But I don’t go till 11 o’clock”, I said. “So I won’t see you in the morning.” Jojo is now 17. Teenagers need a lot of sleep.